Campus events honor veterans and ROTC

University leaders, students, staff, and alumni — including many veterans and current Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets and midshipmen — gathered on Hewitt Quadrangle Nov. 11 to honor the contributions of Yale-affiliated veterans past and present.

Under blustery, sunny skies, President Peter Salovey spoke of many ways the university supports veterans who are part of the community, and the current students who plan careers in the U.S. armed forces. “Yale has a proud tradition of serving those who have served, which is reflected around this plaza and in the names carved in the walls of the memorial hall behind us,” Salovey said.

The ceremony included a Yale Police color guard and a brass band, which performed the National Anthem, the anthems of each service, and “Taps.” Undergraduate student Adrian Hale, who served two tours in Afghanistan in the Marine Corps, gave the keynote address. Hale related his upbringing in inner-city Rochester, New York, in a home where no one had completed high school. 

“As a veteran walking around campus, I can’t help but think to myself how many more people who share my background and lived experiences have the same potential but simply haven’t been afforded the opportunities and experiences to cultivate what they truly are, and instead have become victims of their circumstances. To one day help to bridge this opportunity gap has become the driving force in my life,” he said.

See full text of Adrian Hale’s remarks.

Hale committed to “engaging in the struggle for the betterment our society, our country, and our world. I ask everyone present today to join me in this pledge — Marine or not, active duty, veteran, civilian — to resolve to engage in this struggle in whatever capacity you are capable so that not one life that has been lost in the name of this value, or countless other values that we hold dear, will be in vain.” (Read the text of Hale’s speech.)

Tom Opladen ’66, president of the Yale Veterans Association, presented an award to Joseph Gordon, who retired this earlier this year as deputy dean of Yale College. Gordon was instrumental in bringing ROTC back to campus and was a staunch supporter of the ROTC and veteran communities at Yale. Noting that Gordon’s efforts are a primary reason “Yale is the gold standard for ROTC in the Ivy League,” Opladen emphasized the ways Gordon had helped to establish ROTC in the Yale culture. 

ROTC cadets Juliette Dietz ’19 and Johnathon Slife ’19 lead a tour of military-related sites on Yale’s campus. (Photo by Blake Thorkelson)

A video of the ceremony, which was led by Kim Goff-Crews, secretary of the university and vice president for student life, is available here. Hale’s remarks begin at 15:45. Yale Students for Veterans has also created a video entitled “Veterans Day at Yale: Our Veterans,” available here.

Other events on campus included a veteran portrait gallery in the Woolsey Hall Rotunda, a military history tour of campus led by ROTC students, a student veteran panel at the School of Management, and a screening of “The Millionaires’ Unit,” about the First Yale Unit and the birth of U.S. naval aviation during World War I. Yale Students for Veterans placed American flags on Cross Campus and in the Branford College courtyard, and student organizations placed flag displays across campus to honor LGBTQ+, African American, Asian American, Latinx/Hispanic, and female veterans.

Yale students serve as cadets and midshipmen in Army, Air Force, and Navy ROTC programs.  ROTC returned to campus in the fall of 2012. Military-related programs at Yale include the Warrior Scholar Project, which supports the transition from the military to student life; the Yale Veterans Network, a campus affinity group for students, faculty, and staff; and the Yale Veterans Association, an alumni organization. 

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